The Dallas Cowboys and Tennessee Titans really couldn’t be much more irrelevant to one another throughout NFL history. Playing just once every for years (and obviously never meeting in a Super Bowl) it’s rare that this match-up means much to either team.
Being this is the case, it’s understandable that most Cowboys fans probably haven’t paid much attention to the Titans this season. So, let’s take a look at what the Titans have done this season to get a better understanding of who they are, and who the Cowboys will be facing on Monday night this week.
Spider-Man Meme Offense
To be honest, the more I watch this Titans offense, the more I realize how similar they appear to be to the Cowboys. Like Dallas, Tennessee has placed an increased emphasis on developing a “hard-nosed,” run first identity on offense. They’ve invested valued assets into their offensive line, drafted Derrick Henry in the 2nd round of the 2016 draft, and brought in running back Dion Lewis this offseason.
Plus, their quarterback Marcus Mariota presents a stellar run threat both as a scrambler and on designed run reads. The thing is, as bad as the Cowboys offense has been this year, Tennessee has actually been worse.
The Titans are 28th in offensive DVOA and bottom five in sack percentage at 11.2%. That sack percentage number is up from just 5% last season (!) though the outlier game against the Ravens certainly plays a hand here.
Marcus Mariota hasn’t been the only problem, but his passing statistics suggest he hasn’t been the solution either. Mariota has thrown for just 3 touchdowns and 5 interceptions, and has been sacked 19 times. On the plus side, Mariota does have 31 rushes for 185 yards and a touchdown on the year as well.
The Titans are bad in most offensive efficiency numbers and have failed weekly to create explosive plays as indicated by their 32nd ranking in big play rate this year (4%). I really like the Cowboys match-up on defense this week, and they should be able to hold the Titans down for most of the night.
Bend, Don’t Break Defense
While their offense has been nearly league-worst for much of the year, the Titans defense stacks up pretty well with other defensive units around the league. Though they are just 21st in defensive DVOA, the Titans are 2nd in defensive big play rate (just 5.1%) and 3rd in standard down success rate (40.5%).
Where the numbers indicate the Titans fail is on third down, coming in at 24th in third down success rate in the league, and they are especially bad on third and medium.
While the Cowboys and Titans both come into their match-up at 3-4, I believe the Cowboys are the superior team. If they can play like they have in their three previous home games this season, they should even up their record at 4-4 on Monday night.
If they let the Titans hang around too long, however, we could see them snatch the game at the end like they did against the Philadelphia Eagles.